Cork Deaf Association Asks new Minister Alan Kelly to Restore Lost Funding to Deaf Service
‘Minister Kelly, what will your answer be?’
The Cork Deaf Association calls on the new Minister for the Environment and Local Government Alan Kelly, to reverse the recent decision of the department he now heads to withdraw funding for the Irish Deaf Society’s advocacy service: Deaforward. Shock waves were sent through the Irish Deaf Community with the announcement that this invaluable service would have no option but to close immediately. Deaforward, which has been in operation for the past 11 years, provided a broad range of advocacy services to approximately 5,000 Deaf people in Ireland. The Service worked to improve access for Deaf people to public services, education, healthcare and the means to employment. The service’s closure puts the Deaf community at further risk of social and economic isolation and a decline in living standards.
Gerrie O’ Grady, Manager of the Cork Deaf Association, expressed serious concerns about the government’s ongoing treatment of the Deaf Community. ‘The Irish Government is failing the Deaf Community. Deaf people in this country face an uphill battle to access services and supports. Even routine activities such as communicating with your child’s school can create unimaginable challenges. Services like Deaforward are essential in order to protect the Deaf Community from increasing marginalisation and discrimination.’
It has only been six months since the Irish Deaf Community was hit with another major blow. In January 2014, the Seanad rejected a Bill to legally recognise Irish Sign Language. This Bill would have placed the Deaf Community on a much firmer footing in relation to accessing services. One of the arguments put forward against the Bill was that there was a need to develop better Deaf services before Sign Language could be officially recognised. However, the recent decision to cut, not increase, Deaf services is a sad confirmation of the lack of commitment the government has towards addressing serious access issues for Deaf people in this country.
Ms. O’ Grady believes that there is a lack of political understanding when it comes to addressing the needs of Deaf people in Ireland. ‘While Irish Sign Language remains an officially ‘unrecognised’ language and supports for Deaf people are continuing to be cut, the Irish Government curtails the ability of Deaf people to fully participate in Irish society. The harsh reality is that Deaf people are being constantly denied the opportunity to be full Irish citizens.’
Ms. O’ Grady asks the new Minister to make a priority of reversing the funding cut to Deaforward: ‘Minister Kelly, the Deaf Community is asking if you will restore funding to Deaforward. What will your answer be?’
The Cork Deaf Association provides a broad range of supports and services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and their families in Cork. For information and support, contact (021) 4505944 or text (086) 8535574.
Contact: Gerrie O’ Grady (086) 8500162